5 Bengals who could benefit the most from NFL's new kickoff rules

Aug 12, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Chris Evans (25) returns a kick
Aug 12, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Chris Evans (25) returns a kick / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
4 of 4

Tycen Anderson and Shaka Heyward (Coverage team)

Of course, as opposing teams work to find the fastest, quickest, and most threatening ball carriers to take advantage of the new rules, the Bengals must be prepared to counter with their own fast and solid tacklers. 

Several players could step up in this area. The first name that comes to mind as a defensive beneficiary of the new kickoff rules is Tycen Anderson. 

Anderson, a fifth-round pick from the 2022 draft, is one of the fastest players on the team. He could benefit from more kick coverage opportunities to show his speed and tackling prowess. He has already shown what he can do, as he led the team in total special teams tackles last season. 

However, Anderson has been hampered by injuries in his short career. An injury cost him his rookie season. He also suffered a torn ACL against the 49ers last season.

Cincinnati added Vonn Bell and Geno Stone to the safety room this offseason. With the emergence of Jordan Battle and Dax Hill, Anderson will have to show that he can make a difference in kickoff coverage if he is to have a chance at maintaining his place on the roster. But first, he has to get healthy. 

Behind Anderson was Markus Bailey, who had the second-most tackles on special teams last season. However, Bailey is no longer on the roster, which should open the path for another linebacker to take his place. This is where Shaka Heyward enters the chat.

The former Duke Blue Devil possesses the size and speed of a safety. The added importance of explosiveness and tackling ability brought on by the new rules could allow the undrafted rookie free agent from a year ago to shine on special teams in a way that he wouldn't otherwise be able to, sitting behind several well-paid linebackers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Also, with special teams ace Stanley Morgan Jr. now with the New Orleans Saints, Shedrick Jackson could make his name by using his speed to cover and return kickoffs under the new format.